My experience with acne

70% of people have visible skin conditions or scars which affect their confidence. During the time my acne was at its worst, I decided the best way to deal with it was to block it out completely. I wasn't aware how much I was struggling. It is only now that I feel I can talk openly about my experience and hope that talking about it honestly, will help others who have also battled with their skin.

I went to the doctors initially in 2019, with the encouragement of my mum, as I was struggling with acne on my back. Before deciding to privately see a dermatologist, I exhausted every kind of topical cream and antibiotic for my skin. My acne spread to my face very quickly and I actually experienced an allergic reaction to lymecycline, another antibiotic, which also made my skin a lot worse.

After a while, I was recommended Isotretinoin, a very strong antibiotic known for its long list of serious side effects. I had two rounds of this, both around six months long. I was also on steroids for a short period of time. My acne bounced back after the first round of treatment, knocking my confidence and any hopes that my skin would ever improve. Only about 20% of cases relapse so I was quite an unusual case.

I have attached some images to show you what my skin looked like in September 2020. I am lucky to not have scarring today. I truly believe that stress plays a massive part in how your skin behaves. I was obviously quite self-conscious at the time and this created a vicious cycle that I couldn’t escape.

In summer 2020 I went on a family holiday, despite lockdown restrictions lifting, my memories of this time are tainted. I would say it was the peak of my acne and certainly the worst I had ever felt. The weather was hot and Covid had introduced face masks, which made things a whole lot worse for me. My skin was very angry, constantly itchy and having to wear a mask didn’t help in the slightest.

I did inform my school that I was taking Isotretinoin. Reason being was because there were a lot of days that I just wasn’t myself, I felt drained, and I didn’t want things to rub off as personal. My immediate family was very supportive, as well as my form tutor at sixth form. I had a lot of one-to-one chats with her and she reminded me of how far I had come. 

Most people didn’t ask too many questions, I try to not dwell on the past but one comment that will probably forever stick in my head is ‘what happened to your skin?’. Certain conversations I hear in my everyday still trigger things for me but I try to remind myself that skin conditions are so relative to the individual. I think I’ll always be conscious of my skin and I have accepted this. I am still growing as an individual and trying to part with that time in my life.

It was a tough 2 years. I got my brace off in February 2020 before the pandemic and then struggling with my skin was another setback. I felt isolated and misunderstood. I want to remind people that if you feel like you’re suffering, don’t suffer in silence. It took a lot of encouragement from the people around me to actively do something about my skin.

Running for the BSF

Your skin is the largest organ of the body, and the average person has around 300 million skin cells. The British Skin Foundation funds research into all types of skin conditions, acne being one of them. In memory of my Nanny Rose who sadly passed away in 2021, I raised over £500 for the British Heart Foundation running London Landmarks Half Marathon.

Since then, I have run two more half marathons, a ten mile and several other races based in Norfolk. My next local event is the Dereham 10-mile race happening in May 2023. My goal is to run a marathon in the future, fundraising for a charity which is personal to me and at my best effort. It only seemed right to select The British Skin Foundation. Not only is their mission important to me but I know of friends and family who have battled through skin cancer and various other skin conditions too.

Running has always been a safe space for me, fuelling both my motivation and confidence. It helped me a lot when I was struggling the most. Even if you can't relate to my story, I would like to show people that any sort of challenge can be achieved if you have the right mindset.

Please donate to this cause if you can. 

Emily-Rose Thompson

Donate to Emily's Fundraiser    Find out more about acne

By donating to skin disease research, you are helping us to find treatments and cures for common conditions like rosacea, acne and psoriasis through to potential killers like melanoma skin cancer. Thank you.